Reaching Youth Market Demands Innovation
As credit unions confront their many challenges, some are coming up with inventive strategies to attract more deposits, branch more cheaply, and serve their communities.
One such credit union is Vantage Credit Union (vcu.com), Bridgeton, Mo., which is using Twitter and unique marketing approaches to attract young, tech savvy customers. In 2009, the $670 million credit union became the first in its region to offer some banking services through the social network Twitter.
Vantage’s tweetMyMoney service allows members to check balances, get information about recent transactions, or transfer money between accounts—similar to the way many institutions do mobile banking using text messages.
Launching tweetMyMoney was an inexpensive way to enter the mobile banking business. It didn’t immediately generate a wave of new members, but it did attract a lot of attention and set the credit union apart from its competitors.
At one point, Vantage had received so many phone calls from credit unions, community banks, and vendors that it launched a technology subsidiary just to sell tweetMyMoney.
“We realized there was a market need,” Eric Aeree, Vantage executive vice president, tells American Banker. “Deploying text-based mobile banking is expensive,” he adds. “Why not do it through a popular interface?”
These days, the tweetMyMoney service has been rolled into another innovative solution being marketed by Vantage – the “Not Your Mama’s Account” for the 18 to 25 crowd.
Vantage calls it a first-of-its-kind approach to online account management. In addition to standard banking and bill pay capabilities, this next-generation online banking tool includes features such as:
Along with tweetMyMoney, Vantage also offers “slip-up” protection on non-sufficient fund fees for the account specifically designed for youth members.
The features are aimed at one of the demographics credit unions most need to improve upon. Nearly 70% of nonmembers ages 18 to 24 are “not at all familiar” with credit unions—the highest level among any age group, according to CUNA’s 2011-2012 Survey of Potential Members.
The credit union also participates in the innovative social media campaign, “Young and Free.” The credit union hosts a website (youngfreestlouis.com) offering youth-oriented social media options.
Launched in 2007 by Currency Marketing, a credit union marketing company in Chilliwack, Canada, the campaign started from a fundamental proposition: Credit unions, faced with an aging population of members, have to do something to stay relevant and gain a new, young base of customers.
Young & Free, which is being run in several states and provinces in North America, provides tools to engage the youth market using a combination of social media and contests to find young, media-savvy credit union spokespersons.
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